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Alfasud Origins

Alfa Romeo can lay claim to many firsts in the Automotive world. Alfa Romeo was one of the very first companies, back in the early fifties, to recognise the safety benefits of the radial ply tyre and very quickly they become a standard feature on all Alfa Romeo cars. The 1900 sedan was the one of the first cars ever, to discard the traditional side members in favour of an integeral body. Good brakes have always been a strong point with all Alfa Romeos and it was back in 1923 that the RL Targa Florio had brakes on all four wheels long before it was considered necessary or mandatory!

Just as Alfa Romeo led the automotive field of many firsts, the launch of the Alfasud in November 1971 at the Turin Motor Show and subsequent commencment of sales in 1972 heralded a first for Alfa Romeo. With its front wheel drive and flat four motor, the introduction of the Alfasud was one of the biggest design and philosophy changes to occur in Alfa Romeo's history.

Back in the late 1960's the state owned Alfa Romeo Company was after a new small car design to broaden its range, but it was due more to government considerations than marketing possibilities that the Alfasud ('Alfa South') project was undertaken. The new factory, to be built on the site of one of Alfa Romeo's old World War 2 aero engine plants, was at Pomigliano d'Arco near Naples in Italy's south, a mainly rural area with a high unemployment rate.

Headed by Rudolf Hruska (an Austrian designer who worked on the original Volkswagen project with Ferdinand Porsche) it came as no surprise that the new design had a flat-4 engine and had little in common with the earlier Giuliettas and Guilas in its basic engineering layout. In the Alfasud's case the engine was mounted at the front of the car driving the front wheels (a first for Alfa). The flat-4 allowed for a low bonnet line and in consequence good visibility. Even with this radical departure from traditional Alfa Romeo design, the new Giugiaro styled Alfasud still had the superb feel, handling and character of an Alfa Romeo!

The Alfasud engine was water cooled with overhead valves mounted in the roof of the combustion chambers (this was typically Alfa Romeo) but they were set in a single row and actuated by a single camshaft for each pair of cylinders (not so typical). This original engine had a capacity of 1186cc (bore 80mm x stroke 59mm) and a power output of 47kw (63bhp) and with a body weight of only 830kg allowed the car a to obtain speeds in excess of 150km/h. Another first for Alfa Romeo was that this engine was coupled to a four speed gearbox and that the front suspension was a MacPherson strut system and at the rear a rigid axle carried on coil springs and trailing arms.

Because of its relatively simple design and affordable price the Alfasud, for a time, became popular amongst those who previously could not afford a new Alfa Romeo. Following it's initial release a progression of higher performance Suds where to follow.


Alfasud Epilogue

Unfortunately for Alfa Romeo and Rudolph Hruska, after initial glowing reports and reviews about the Alfasud's styling, superb handling and good peformance it became evident after only a short time that all was not well with the Alfasud. Poor reliabilty and poor build quality, primarily caused by the less than enthusiastic work force at the Naples factory, massive rust issues caused by the use of poor quality Russian steel and unpainted bodies sitting out in the open, caused the Alfasud to quickly fall from favour with all but the most enthusiastic fan. There were reports of windscreens falling out of newly delivered cars because of rusted out welding seams, internal door handles falling off only after a few months, rattles and squeaks and all sorts of problems with electrical systems and of course evidence of rust setting in in a very short time.

All this, in my opinion, was a real shame considering the Alfasud and its design perse was a brilliant concept way ahead of its time and from my own personal experience, an agile and brilliant handling little car!


Site Last Updated: 7th Sep 2017

Early 4 door Alfasud

First model Alfasud

Map of Italy

Rudolf Hruska

Rudolf Hruska

Alfasud TI GCL

and the last model Alfasud!


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Year Alfasud Model Development
1971 The Original Alfasud 4 door sedan was launched at the Turin motor Show in November 1971 with actual sales commencing in 1972. It had an 1186CC (1200) engine (bore 80mm x stroke 59mm, Compression 8.8:1) coupled to a 4 speed gearbox. Power was rated at 47kw (63bhp) giving the car a top speed of 150 km/h. It weighed 830kg.
1973 The Alfasud TI was introduced. A 2 door sedan with a weight of only 810kg the and the original 1186CC (1200) engine given more compression (9:1) power was increased to 51kw (68bhp). With a new 5 speed gearbox, top speed was increased to 160 km/h. The original 4 door Alfasud was also given the 5 speed gearbox. This became known as the Alfasud 5m.
1976 The Alfasud Sprint, a 2 door coupe, was introduced. It had a new 1286CC (1300) engine. The bore remained the same as the 1186CC (1200) but the stroke was lengthened from 59mm to 64mm. Power was increased to 65kw (87bhp) giving the car a top speed of 165 k/mh. Of course, the 5 speed gearbox was retained as with all consequent Sprint and TI models.
1979 The Sprint Veloce was introduced. In preparation for the phasing out of the Alfasud sedans, the name Alfasud no longer appeared on these models. With the Sprint Veloce came two more engines. The 1350CC (1400) 58kw (78bhp) engine which was essentially, the 1286CC (1300) with a longer stroke of 67.2mm.and the 1490CC (1500) 71kw (95bhp) engine with the longer stroke as well as a wider bore of 84mm. Top speed of the 1490CC (1500) cars was 175km/h plus.
1983 The Sprint Quadrifoglio Verde (Green Clover Leaf (GCL)) was introduced and it received the 1490CC (1500) 78 kw (105bhp) engine. Top speed was now in excess of 180km/h. The Alfasud TI Quadrifoglio Verde was also introduced later in the year and was to be the Alfasud's swansong. With the 78kw (105 bhp) engine fitted as well as the Speedline mags and 60 profile tyres of the Sprint (plus a number of other extras eg. special seat trim and extra instrumentation) the last of the Alfasuds were arguably the prettiest and best of all! They were definitely the most powerful and fastest with their top speed similar to that of the Sprint Quadrifoglio Verde at over 180 k/mh!
1984 By the end of 1983 beginning of 1984 the Alfa 33 had replaced the Alfasud and the Sprint continued for a number of years with a 33 chassis.


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Year Alfasud Models in Australia
1974 There was a delay of a number of years before Alfasud models reached Australia. It wasn't until March 1974 that the first batch arrived. At that time, only the 4 door 1186CC (1200) 47kw (63bhp) sedan came to Australia.
1975 The first of the Alfasud TI's arrived in February with the more powerul 1186CC (1200) 51kw (68bhp) engine.
1978 The sedan was withdrawn from the Australian market due to lack of popularity but they did make short re-appearence a few years later.
1979 Alfasud sales in Australia up to this point had almost ground to a halt! The release of the Alfasud Sprint with the 1490CC (1500) engine and the addition of the same engine to the new look TI gave sales a good kick along.
1982 The four door sedan was re-introduced. The two door TI was replaced by the three door hatchback.
1983 The final Alfasud TI models to reach our shores was the more powerful 1490cc (1500) 78kw (105bhp) twin carb TI GCL. Only a small batch of 250 arrived in Australia and are now quite a rarity. There was also a brief introduction of the five door hatch which seemed to dissappear from showrooms almost overnight.
1984 The last of the Alfasud TI GCL's were sold at the end of 1983 beginning of 1984 as 33's arrived to supercede the Alfasud range. The Sprint however (as mentioned previoulsy) did remain for a few more years retaining the Afasuds looks but running the 33 chassis.


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Links


Alfasud Advert


Alfasud/Alfetta Advert

Examples of Alfasud/Alfa Romeo advertising in Australia from the late 70s and early 80s.

Bibliography

  • "Alfa Romeo Pocket History" by Gonzalo Alvarez Garcia. Motorbooks International - U.S.A. No ISBN number.

  • "Alfa Romeo" by Evan Green Griffin Press - Australia ISBN: 0959663703.

  • "Great Marques - Alfa Romeo" by David Owen Octopus Books Ltd. - U.K. ISBN: 0706422198.

  • "Alfa Romeo Alfasud - 1972-1984" by R.M. Clarke Brooklands Books - U.K. ISBN: 1870642074.


Disclaimer

I make NO claim whatsoever to being an expert on Alfa Romeo, Alfasud or their historys. The information I have gathered here is through my own research primarily from the books referred to in the Bibliography but also through internet sources and talking to Alfa enthusiasts. If you genuinely feel any information I have on this page is incorrect, please feel free to email me regarding it so the appropriate corrections can be made.


Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]. Any comments, corrections or (constructive) criticism most welcome.


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Copyright Colin B Power 2017
Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA.
URL: http://www.colinp.net/sud

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